A Lesson from Bubba

Bubba Watson signing autographs on the putting...

Bubba Watson (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Rather than sitting at the piano for my usual Sunday night recording session, yesterday I chose to spend time with some Peeps, chocolate bunny ears, and and the exciting finish to the US Masters Golf tournament. By now you’ve probably heard of Bubba Watson, the new American golf sensation and wearer of the Green Jacket, but you might not know is that Bubba has never had a golf lesson.

This caught my eye because as I’ve written before, I’m constantly amazed by so many of the self-taught musicians I see, especially among college age kids. They are driven by a love of music, collaborating, and composing. I know I’ll sound like a heretic by saying this… but are teachers actually needed for weekly piano lessons if the student is truly self-motivated? Wouldn’t drop-in lessons be good enough?

Watson, 33, is unlike just about any Masters champion we’ve seen…..On the course, Watson has little in common with the recent crop of factory-produced golfers, the swing machines with their swing gurus, sports psychologists and mostly by-the-book games.

He is self-taught. Self-motivated. And not afraid of self. The guy has a pink driver, for goodness sakes.

The next golf lesson he takes will be his first. His game might be reckless, but at least it is his game. He goes down swinging. Or, on a day like this, when he bags his first major victory, he stands tall swinging away…

“I don’t play the game for fame,” he said. “I don’t play the sport for fame. I don’t try to win tournaments for fame. I’m just Bubba. I goof around. I play around.” (read more here)

Besides golf, Bubba has his hand in music too. You can see him in this video  featuring the PGA Tours first and only boy band, the Golf Boys. He’s the one in blue-jean overalls.

So today, as I sat down to record the last two sections of Schumann’s Papillons, I thought about Bubba. And even though I knew I hadn’t put in the time I should have on this piece, and I’d never “studied” it with anyone, I thought to myself, “Hey, I like this piece. It’s fun to play!”

And I threw caution to the wind and came up with this.

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11 thoughts on “A Lesson from Bubba

  1. I learn a lot of music these days which I don’t actively “study” with my teacher: that is, I tend to go to her with a more finished version which we can then go over together. It’s always fun and exciting when a student comes to a lesson having picked something up themselves and learnt it without my guidance, tho very few of my students are confident enough in their playing to do this yet. Ben, who is my superstar, taught himself Someone Like You by Adele after watching a YouTube tutorial: I was really impressed as I find music like that really difficult to play convincingly

    I love Papillons – heard my teacher perform the work last year. I learnt it when I was in my teens and keep meaning to return to it and learn it “properly.”

    Your uploads to SoundCloud are consistently excellent and inspiring – I was interested to find you learn the Rach Etude Tableaux No 2: I’ve decided to include this in my Diploma recital, along with the No. 7 from Op 33.

    • Thanks for listening and commenting Fran. I also love the rare time when a student comes in with something they’ve learned on their own…or even with a suggestion about some piece they want to learn. Great that you’re going to perform the Rachmaninoff. They’re all wonderful pieces, but this morning I’ve been working on Op 33 no 8 in g minor. You’d love that one too!

  2. I have one student who has such a gift to listening to music and then playing it by ear. Her mother wants her to learn the formal route but I often wonder whether she would be better off spending her precious spare time just doing what she loves to do and does well. This I believe will not only encourage her more to follow her love of music but will give her the confindence too.

    • I have a few students like that. I try to make time during the lesson for sight reading and music theory, but I always allow time for them to do what they do best. After all the goal is that they continue to play the rest of their lives, right?

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